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Completely royalty-free music
Completely royalty free -- Totally royalty-free music free of all strings to performance collection societies

This page details those of our composers who are not members of any royalty collection society, and which music tracks are totally royalty free in all senses of the word.

First, we would like to try to explain some of the complexities of music use and royalty-free music. We've tried to make this as short as we could:

General royalty-free music:

Most music composers and publishers are members of various composers' rights societies. Some societies oversee and look after the composers' works with regards to physical manufacturing of products that contain their music. These rights are called "Mechanical rights". Other societies oversee and look after the composers' works with regards to broadcasting and public performance of their music. These rights are called "Performance rights".

When you find music listed as "royalty-free" on this web site and other web sites, it usually means that the composer and publisher of the music are not members of any society that oversees their mechanical rights. This means that you can freely use their music on DVD, CDROM and any other physical object that contains their music, and you can have these CD/DVD's manufactured in a factory, without paying any fee to any collection society for that.

At ALL music is FREE of mechanical rights. We do not work with any composers who are members of any mechanical rights society. This means that ALL the music on our site is royalty-free for use on DVD, CDROM etc.

But many composers are members of a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). These PRO's look after the composers and publishers rights to receive royalties when their music is broadcast or played in public. It means that anybody who broadcasts their music, or plays it in public (for example, at a trade show, or in a sports arena), need to obtain a license from their country's performance royalty collection society. In most cases, this does not affect you (our customer) in any way, because the broadcasters already have this license and therefore no additional fees are actually payable by anybody.

For example, you buy a track from us by a composer who is a PRO member. You use the music on a DVD film and manufacture 5,000 copies of that film. No problem, the composer isn't member of any mechanical rights society, so there are no fees to pay for this. A year later, your film ends up getting broadcast on BBC, or perhaps on YouTube. Now, the composer will receive a small payment for this. This payment is however just taken from the already paid, annual license that the BBC and YouTube pays to the performance rights organization. No extra money is payable by anybody. Nobody has incurred any extra expenses, because the license money was already paid by the broadcaster, as a large annual fee.

So, whilst the music is not entirely free of all strings, it is still fair to call it royalty-free because neither the producer, nor the broadcaster (who already has an annual license) has to pay any royalties.

The only time an actual additional expense would come into this situation would be if you decide to broadcast the music yourself, and you don't already have a broadcasting license. For example, at a concert or at some kind of venue that doesn't already have a PRO license. Some countries also consider telephone music-on-hold to be a "broadcast" - other countries do not.

As far as trade shows or sports events, here you would expect the venue/hall to already have a license from their country's performance royalty organization, but you may want to check that.

Recently, the PRS in the United Kingdom have deemed that a person or company in the UK that uses music on a UK web site is classed as a 'broadcaster'. And, as a broadcaster of music, if you want to use any music that is composed by a composer who is a member of a performance rights society, you need a license from the PRS. The license typically costs £50 per year. This applies only to UK persons and companies with UK web sites.

Wherever you look for "royalty-free music", be it on the internet or in traditional production music libraries, most of the music you'll find is in this category. The composers are not members of any mechanical rights society, but they are members of a performance rights society, and it would be fair to call their music "general royalty-free".

Completely royalty-free music / Non-PRO music:

There are some composers who are not a member of any kind of composers' society what so ever. They are not members of any mechanical rights society, so their music can be manufactured on DVD/CD etc. without paying any mechanical license fees to any organisation. And they are also not members of any performance rights organization, so their music can be freely broadcast and played in public without paying any broadcasting license to any collection society what so ever. Their music can be said to be "completely royalty free" - also known as "Non-PRO music", "PRS free music", "GEMA free music" and so on.

If you are going to need music that is entirely Non-PRO, you can choose to Search or Browse only Non-PRO music using our website. When you browse a music genre (by clicking on a genre in the list of music genres/styles on the right-hand side of our site), on top of the result list you can see an option to display "PRO and Non-PRO tracks" or "Non-PRO Tracks Only". Click "Non-PRO tracks only" and your displayed track list will be updated to show only music that is "completely royalty-free".

If you want to Search by keywords or track titles etc., and you want to display only Non-PRO music, then go to the Advanced Search page, and you'll be able to see the "PRO and Non-PRO" or "Non-PRO tracks only" option there.


A question / answer from a customer about PRO  / Non-PRO tracks

"So, are you saying that with the PRO tracks, I would have to pay twice?? Both to Shockwave-Sound and to SIAE?? I'm sorry, but this is really complicated!" (* This customer was from Italy, so her local performing rights society is SIAE. If you're in Germany, this will be GEMA, if you're in the UK it will be PRS, if you're in Sweden it will be STIM etc.)

And our answer:

Don't feel bad, because music licensing really is quite complicated. You are not the only one who thinks so. But I will try to explain.

Yes, there are a few cases in which you would have to pay both us and the performing rights organization in your country, if you use PRO music. This is because you are buying some rights from us (the right to put the music in your film, the right to manufacture CD's / DVD's that contain our music), and some other rights you would have to buy from SIAE* (the right to broadcast the music or play it in a public place). (* This customer was in Italy, so for her it's SIAE but if you're in a different country, it will be a different organization, for example Germany: GEMA. United Kingdom: PRS.)

In a music track there are typically three "rights", three different parts of the copyright:

  1. Sync rights = The rights to use the music and put it into a media project, such as a film or a video game.
  2. Mechanical rights = The rights to produce CD's, DVD's or other physical objects that contain the music.
  3. Performing rights = The rights to broadcast the music on TV or radio, or to play it in a public place (such as a restaurant, cinema, etc.)

As you have noticed, on our site we have music composed by PRO members (PRO tracks) and we have some music composed by composers who are not PRO members (Non-PRO Tracks).

With the PRO tracks, you are buying the Sync- and Mechanical rights from us. But not the Performing rights. You need to buy the Performing rights from the PRO in your country. In your case, since you are in Italy, this is SIAE.

With the Non-PRO music, you buy all three rights from us. When you buy the track from us, you have in fact bought the Sync-, the Mechanical- and the Performing rights. That's the only purchase you'll ever have to make. Neither SIAE nor anybody else will ask any extra money from you, no matter how you use the music.

Depending on what you are going to use the music for, you may need only one of these rights, or you may need two of these rights, or you may need all three. If you are only going to make a film and put it on YouTube, you really only need the Sync rights. You don't need the performing rights, because YouTube is the broadcaster and they already have performing rights. They are the broadcaster, not you.

Or maybe you are going to make a film about your local town and make 1,000 DVD's of that film. You want to put our music in your film. Then you need the Sync- rights (to put our music in your film) and you need the Mechanical rights (to manufacture DVD's that contain the film that contains our music). But you don't need the Performing rights, because you have no plans to broadcast this music on TV or Radio, or to play the film in a public place such as a restaurant etc. So... in this case, you would need only the Sync- and Mechanical rights.

Remember also that existing broadcasters, such as TV stations, radio stations, cinemas, YouTube, etc. already have a Performing right license. So, if you are going to make a film which may possibly be broadcast on national Italian television later, you don't need the Performing rights. It's the TV station that needs the performing license. They are the broadcaster, not you. And they already have that license. All "real" broadcasting companies, TV stations, radio stations etc. already have performing licenses from the PRO in their country, which they pay for as one big payment each year. So for them, it doesn't matter if the music is PRO or Non-PRO. They have already paid their large, annual sum for their performing license, so they already have the Performing rights covered. Which again means that you don't need to buy the performing rights from us.

So... you see, whether or not you need Non-PRO Tracks, or just any tracks from our site, depends on how you are going to use the music. If you are going to play the music in public, or on your website, then you need the Performing rights. But if you are not going to play the music in public, or on a website, then you don't need the Performing rights. And if you don't need the performing rights, then you can use any tracks from our site.

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